Miami Beach

Miami Beach to speed up renovation schedule at convention center

Some conventions will have to go elsewhere while the Miami Beach Convention Center undergoes a multi-million-dollar renovation.

Miami Beach commissioners on Wednesday decided to limit the number and types of shows that can take place during the $500 million construction project.

Under the current timetable, construction is likely to start soon after Art Basel in 2015.

The convention center’s highest-profile user, Art Basel, has committed to staying at the convention center for another five years — even through construction, according to a city memo.

Other marquee conventions, including the Miami International Boat Show and Cruise Shipping may have to find another home during construction.

“It affects the major industry of the city of Miami Beach, which is the hospitality industry, so we do need to take great care. I agree financially it does makes sense to just get it done,” Commissioner Joy Malakoff said at a recent commission meeting.

Commissioners want to keep construction to a maximum of 36 months, to help keep costs lower and not bother nearby residents as much. Previous plans called for about four years of construction. But that accommodated all booked shows, in part by building expensive temporary structures.

“We can’t afford a five or six-year time frame, which would be what we would be looking at, which would be accommodating everyone,” Commissioner Deede Weithorn said at a recent committee meeting. “And a lot of that would be what I’m going to call wasted costs because we’d be staging and de-staging, and moving and taking equipment in and taking equipment out. It would just be incredibly difficult.”

The shorter time frame requires renovations to take place on one-half of the building at a time. That means only shows that use two halls of the convention center can be accommodated during construction.

Additionally, the Convention Center parking lot will be used for staging construction, meaning shows that rely on the lot — such as the boat show and the Miami International Auto Show — might have to host their events elsewhere during construction.

Art Basel will take place in an in-between period, when one hall has completed construction. The city will hold off on starting construction on the other hall while the art show is in town, according to Max Sklar, Miami Beach’s director of Tourism, Culture and Economic Development.

City staff will work with event organizers to finalize a schedule, based on the criteria laid out by the commission.

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